by: Shae Rozzi Updated:
BROOKHAVEN, Ga. - Brookhaven Christian Church is trying to end child sex trafficking by collecting donations of non-perishable food items for backpacks that will be handed out to students at TriCities High School in south Fulton County.
The students participate in the government-funded free or reduced-price lunch program.
"If it weren't for school lunch, some of these kids might not ever have a meal," organizer Greg Chevalier told Channel 2's Shae Rozzi.
Chevalier said research has found that hunger is a major vulnerability for children.
"If you could just imagine a stranger approaching a child and offering them lunch or a meal, that builds trust. One meal turns into two meals, two meals turns into perhaps a purchase of something else. Once that trust is built then these children are part of the program," Chevalier said.
Chevalier said child sexual exploitation is a $32 billion industry.
"It's a money-making machine and it's happening right in our backyards and in our communities. We call them 'transactions.' Most of the transactions are happening outside the perimeter in the northeast and northwest suburbs," Chevalier said.
The church is looking for businesses and individuals to donate food and volunteer their time to stuff "Blessing Bags" at Brookhaven Christian Church at 4500 Peachtree Rd. NE on March 16.
The bags will be handed out to students before their spring break, an extended time away from school and the lunches that are provided.
The event will not only help the children Chevalier said, but also help educate the public about the reality of child sexual exploitation.
"This is not isolated to persons coming into the airport and purchasing children for sex, this is a much broader issue," Chevalier said.
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